Should the United States or the United Nations have tried to oust Saddam Hussein?
Saddam Hussein was born in 1937 in the village of Tikrit, Iraq. His father died around the time of his birth. His mother remarried and his stepfather is said to have savagely beat Hussein as a child. In 1958 Hussein participated in a coup that overthrew the monarchy of Iraq and made Abdul Karim Qasim prime minister. In 1959 he was involved in a failed assassination attempt on Qasim and had to flee Iraq. In 1963, after Qasim was murdered, Hussein returned to Iraq and was named assistant secretary general of the Ba'ath party. Within a few months the Ba’ath party was overthrown. Hussein was sent to prison but escaped after two years.
In 1968 the Ba’ath party regained control in a coup that Hussein helped lead. Hussein was named the vice chairman of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council and vice president under General Ahmed Hassan Bakr. In 1979 Hussein became president. Subsequently, he executed hundreds of high ranking party members and army officers who he suspected of being disloyal, beginning a long rein of crimes as Iraq's dictator. Hussein’s brutality and willingness to torture and murder anyone he sees as a threat has earned him the moniker, Butcher of Baghdad.
In 1980 Hussein invaded neighboring Iran starting an eight-year war that ended in a stalemate and left Iraq with a 75 million dollar war debt. In the 1980’s Hussein launched attacks against the Kurds in Northern Iraq. During the campaign Hussein used chemical weapons killing thousands. He also carried out mass summary executions. Tens of thousands of noncombatants disappeared. In 1990 Hussein invaded Kuwait in an attempt to gain control of Kuwait’s oil revenues. The invasion triggered a worldwide trade embargo and Iraq was forced out of Kuwait by United Nations (UN) Coalition forces in the six-week long Gulf War.
As a result of the invasion and the Gulf War, the UN passed resolutions including Security Council Resolution 687 that requires the "destruction, removal, or rendering harmless" of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and long range ballistic missiles. The resolution called for this to be done under international monitoring and supervision. This monitoring is commonly referred to as weapons inspections.
From 1991 to 1998 Hussein's regime was uncooperative with the weapons inspections. Inspectors were barred from many sites and items were removed from some sites prior to inspectors being allowed admittance. In one incident in June of 1991, UN inspectors tried to intercept Iraqi vehicles carrying nuclear related equipment. Iraqi personnel fired warning shots in the air to prevent the inspectors from approaching the vehicles. The equipment was later seized and destroyed under international supervision. Finally, in 1998 Hussein suspended all inspections and the UN inspectors left the country.
Since that time Hussein has continued manufacturing chemical and biological weapons and has been trying to develop nuclear weapons. Under the threat of a preemptive attack by the United States, Hussein has accepted the terms of a new UN resolution reinitiating the weapons inspections.
View a list of Saddam's crimes.
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||Born in Tikrit,
||Joined Ba’ath Socialist Party
|1958||Participated in coup that overthrew monarchy and made Abdul
Karim Qasim prime minister
||Fled Iraq after failed plot to assassinate Qasim
||Following murder of Qasim, Hussein returned to Iraq
||Sent to prison for two years
||Became chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council
||Became President of Iraq
||War with Iran
||Used chemical weapons against Kurds in Northern Iraq
||Invaded Kuwait resulting in six-week Gulf War with United
||Iraq undergoes weapons inspections by teams of UN inspectors
||Hussein continues to manufacture weapons of mass destruction
including a nuclear weapon program
||Under threat of preemptive attacks by U.S., Hussein accepts
UN resolution to reinitiate weapons inspections
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Recommended WebsitesThere are numerous web sites dedicated to Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The following are interesting and useful.
The Iraqi National Congress (INC) website has news of the country in both English and Arabic. For those who read Arabic, you will find recent issues of the INC’s newspaper, Al-Mutamar. The INC is an organization of Iraqis dedicated to the removal of Saddam Hussein.
Check a good chronological biography of Hussein and a brief history of Iraq, as well as other useful information (these sites do not work properly with Netscape).
For searchable articles about Hussein, Iraq, or other middle east issues, try The Middle East Research & Information Project.
The U.S. Department of State has a lot of information on Iraq and Hussein including war crimes, impact of sanctions on Iraq, and evasions of UN resolutions.The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) is an opposition group of mainly Shiite Muslims who are funded and backed by Iran.
The United Nations has a site listing all of the resolutions of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM).
The Arms Control Association website has an analysis of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.
The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control also has some interesting information on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
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I Was Saddam's Son (1997) by Latif Yahia
For years Yahia was a double for Saddam Hussein’s son, Uday. From that position he witnessed torture and depravity. His book tells the story.
Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein (1999) by Andrew Cockburn & Patrick Cockburn
This gives the story of Saddam’s rise to power and how he managed to stay in power despite great efforts to oust him.
Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge (1999) by Said K. Aburish
This is a biography of Saddam. The author was a journalist in Iraq and an Iraqi government consultant.
Saddam's Bombmaker: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological Weapons Agenda (2000) by Khidhir Hamzah
About Iraq’s nuclear and biological weapons agenda by a scientist who worked for Saddam.
The Saddam Hussein Reader (2002) by Turi Munthe (Editor)
This is a collection of articles and excerpts from books about events over the last few years.
The History of Iraq (2002) by Charles Tripp
The author analyzes the roots of Islamic law, the negative effects of British imperialism and the emergence of the Ba'ath Party and dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.
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